RIBBON RIOTS: Sharon and Roger Nielsen were heartbroke after their attempt to pay their respects caused online outrage.
RIBBON RIOTS: Sharon and Roger Nielsen were heartbroke after their attempt to pay their respects caused online outrage.

Online abuse flows as couple's bushfire tribute turns sour

ALLORA posties have been left disheartened after a gesture of solidarity to firefighters was turned into an online ambush.

On Monday, on the recommendation of a local rural firefighter, Roger and Sharon Nielsen posted that they would like to decorate the town's mailboxes red and orange in tribute to the ongoing NSW fires on Friday, January 10.

However, they were soon barraged by keyboard warriors, claiming the tribute not only spread misinformation but was disrespectful to the lives lost in the 2010 floods whose anniversary fell on the same day.

Opponents argued ribbons indicated to firefighters whether there were particular hazards in the property or access to water points.

A QFES spokeswoman later revealed this information was correct.

"Specific colours may represent a property's individual characteristics, such as if there is a static water supply or potential hazard on site," she said.

"Coloured ribbons can play an important role in alerting firefighters of what to be aware of when responding to an incident.

"Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) appreciates the community's support for our firefighters and their desire to pay tribute to them.

"However, we discourage residents from fixing ribbons to their letterbox in the event it may incorrectly represent a property's characteristics."

For the couple, who were unaware of this, the backlash had been a huge kick in the guts for a team who usually gave their all to the tight-knit community and had participated in similar decorating.

"What we wanted to do was help the volunteer fireys and make them decorate and take photos, we didn't know we were standing on someone's toes," Mr Nielsen said.

"We only wanted to make people aware of the sacrifices and dramas happening down South, as well as Maryvale and Aratula, I don't understand why people would be against it."

Referencing the anniversary of the flood victims was a particularly low blow said Mr Nielsen who still couldn't understand why the ban was in place, given Allora was not at an imminent risk of fire.

"I lost two of my best mates in the floods and they would love that something like this was celebrated on that day," he said.

"Ninety-nine per cent of residents can't afford to donate, we're in just as much bigger strife as everyone else. We thought this would be a way for people to do something rather than just feel helpless.

While the pair apologised for any confusion about the colours, they weren't backing down, changing the tribute to green and blue, for the ground and sky.

"When they knock you back, it starts getting disheartening but we will make sure it still goes ahead," Mr Nielsen said.

"Allora is still the best little town on the downs."


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